Debate Creates Carnival Atmosphere at Hofstra

The first presidential debate of the general election will be held here.

HEMPSTEAD, New York— -- The 2016 presidential race has turned Hofstra University into something of a campaign carnival today ahead of the first debate of the general election.

There’s a marching band performing for cable news, cheerleaders doing routines among reporters, and college students — many of whom are going to be voting in their first election — were transported back to their childhoods with free turns in a White House-shaped bouncy castle.

The lively, fun-filled atmosphere here in Hempstead, Long Island, doesn’t hint at this year’s rather acrimonious political climate.

Erin Daley and Monica Feijoo, both 19-year-old sophomores, are planning to vote for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton respectively, but their different political allegiances didn’t stop them from enjoying the free ice cream and T-shirts being handed out near the school’s student center today.

“Peace is possible,” Feijoo joked.

Another set of sophomore roommates, Abby Salamon and Hadas Hayun, were more politically aligned, telling ABC News they’re both planning to vote for Trump.

“Even though it doesn’t seem like he has all of the knowledge or information he may need right now … I think he’ll grow into the position [once elected],” Hayun said.

Though college campuses tend to skew liberal, it comes as little surprise that the Republican scene at Hofstra is fairly vibrant. In the 2012 presidential election, President Obama did win Nassau County with 52.9 percent of the vote, but Mitt Romney was right behind him with 46.9 percent. Trump has had several large rallies on Long Island.

For an even more old-school effect, many of the students have turned to sidewalk chalk to air their opinions. Some opted for politically charged statements -- “Let Gary Debate” was one, while Black Lives Matter supporters also made their mark. There were also a number of Harambe shout-outs that served as a reminder that this is all taking place on a college campus.